Saturday, December 19, 2015

ADSS 1.149 Orsenigo to Maglione: Hitler's reply to the UK; war imminent

ADSS 1.149 Cesare Orsenigo, Germany, to Luigi Maglione, Sec State

Reference: Telegram number 338 (AES 5871/39)

Location and date: Berlin, 29.08.1939

Summary statement: Hitler’s reply to UK proposals makes crisis worse; imminent danger of war; people nervous in Berlin.

Language: Italian


Today’s reply by Hitler to British proposals (1) is discordant in many points, so much so that acute crises are foreseen during the next negotiations with a grave danger of war.

Berlin population, which already experiences war restrictions, lack (?) food, begins to express, at least privately, disapproval … blaming delay on military actions, judging this as weakening the morale (?) of the army and strengthening the Allies, who think that the delay is due to perplexity on the Germany side, notwithstanding their declaration of superiority.

The Party too, probably is not politically and totally in agreement with the war plans.

German Foreign Secretary today told me spontaneously that the Government have appreciated the message of the Holy Father that … [words missing] to communicate this to the Holy See, almost excusing himself for not having done it before directly. (2)

I understand that the Dutch and Belgian foreign ministers called the Ambassadors of the powers directly interested in the German-Polish crisis to a meeting yesterday at their ministries. (3)  They informed them that their respective sovereigns were ready to offer their good offices towards a pacific solution if they were requested to do so, but they would not take the initiative themselves.  The news is confidential.

(1) The telegram only bears the date of receipt; it was most likely sent on 29.08.1939 and “today’s reply” must be the document Fuhrer and Chancellor to the British Government, DGFP, Series D, Volume 7, n421, pp 413-15.  It was handed to the British ambassador, Neville Henderson at 19.15hrs.  Therefore the telegram must have been sent some time afterwards, possibly the next day.
(2) Ernst von Weizs├Ącker (1882-1951), Secretary of State, German Foreign Office 1938-43, left a note referring to an interview on this date with the Nuncio who came to ask for a secret understanding regarding the conscription of priests.  He says nothing, however, of the Pope’s peace appeal. DGFP, Series D, Volume 7, n432, p 426.

(3) Eelco van Kleffens (1894-1983), Dutch Foreign Minister 1939-40 (-1946) Paul-Henri Spaak (1899-1972), Belgian Foreign Minister 1939-40 (-1949).

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